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(reply to Anonymous)

If the tech did not reply to your question, I am not sure why she would mention these obvious things...I would not give this another thought, as she may have been inexperienced (and was maybe just stating the obvious).

We can focus on what your doctor said, as this holds much more weight. There are many different types of masses that can be seen on an MRI, ultrasound or mammogram; most are benign (not cancerous). Here is some information that explains this from the American Cancer Society:
"The doctor reading the films will look for several types of changes:
Calcifications are tiny mineral deposits within the breast tissue, which look like small white spots on the films. They may or may not be caused by cancer. There are 2 types of calcifications:
* Macrocalcifications are coarse (larger) calcium deposits that are most likely changes in the breasts caused by aging of the breast arteries, old injuries, or inflammation. These deposits are related to non-cancerous conditions and do not require a biopsy. Macrocalcifications are found in about half the women over 50, and in about 1 of 10 women under 50.
* Microcalcifications are tiny specks of calcium in the breast. They may appear alone or in clusters. Microcalcifications seen on a mammogram are of more concern, but still usually do not mean that cancer is present. The shape and layout of microcalcifications help the radiologist judge how likely it is that cancer is present. If the calcifications look suspicious for cancer, a biopsy will be done.

A mass, which may occur with or without calcifications, is another important change seen on mammograms. Masses can be many things, including cysts (non-cancerous, fluid-filled sacs) and non-cancerous solid tumors (such as fibroadenomas), but they could also be cancer. Masses that are not cysts usually need to be biopsied.
* A cyst and a tumor can feel alike on a physical exam. They can also look the same on a mammogram. To confirm that a mass is really a cyst, a breast ultrasound is often done. Another option is to remove (aspirate) the fluid from the cyst with a thin, hollow needle.
* If a mass is not a simple cyst (that is, if it is at least partly solid), then you may need to have more imaging tests. Some masses can be watched with periodic mammograms, while others may need a biopsy. The size, shape, and margins (edges) of the mass help the radiologist determine if cancer is present.

Having your previous mammograms available for the radiologist is very important. They can be helpful to show that a mass or calcification has not changed for many years. This would mean that it is probably a benign condition and a biopsy is not needed. "

I would hope that by getting a copy of your test results, and/or talking with your doctor about interpreting these results, it would be more clear what type of mass was seen.

Lastly, if you have noticed symptoms that have changed since you last saw your doctor...you need to call and make an appointment. Unless they hear from you, they will assume everything is better or the same. If your pain is throbbing and you are feeling a bigger mass, please call and let them know.

You can read more about breast cancer detection here: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-detection.

Here is a list of the different types of screening and diagnostic tests:

Bottom line: If your doctor's were concerned about a mass, they would talk with you about further diagnostic testing. You can let them know you need to hear the specific words "benign", as they may not know how worried you are.

Does this help? Sorry if I offended you by asking if you know what a lymph node is; it was difficult to understand your original question, but I understand you are confused by their lack of communication. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

February 17, 2011 - 12:25pm


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